Disney World

Do Some Planning Before You Say, "I'm Going to Disney World!"

DisneyWorld Florida
••• lehaneb/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

New for 2015

Christmas at Disney World- See what the resort has planned for the 2015 holidays, including Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party.

Coming in 2016

Frozen Ever After- Read my preview of the Epcot attraction based on the hugely popular film.

Rivers of Light and Nighttime Safaris- See the Florida Ride Guide to learn about the new developments at Disney's Animal Kingdom.

Coming in 2017

Avatar land- Disney's Animal Kingdom will transport guests to the mythical world of Pandora.

Discover what's in store, including a flight aboard a banshee.

Coming around 2020

Disney World has exciting plans to build a massive Star Wars land on a 14-acre plot at Disney's Hollywood Studios.

Also coming to the Studios park, probably around the same time that Star Wars will open, will be a new Toy Story Land.

Resort Overview

It's been a number of years since Disney World's 1971 opening, but some people still refer to the Magic Kingdom, the east coast version of the original Disneyland, as "Disney World" -- as if the one park was pretty much the whole deal. Sure, the Magic Kingdom, with its Cinderella Castle, Dumbo ride, and other icons, is the heart and soul of the Florida resort.

But it comprises a mere few dozen acres among WDW's 35,000 acres. That's 47 square miles, roughly the size of two Manhattan islands, filled with four theme parks, two waterparks, 30 resort hotels, six golf courses, two shopping-dining-entertainment complexes and--are you still with me?--enough other diversions to keep tens of thousands of "cast members" (Disney-speak for employees) busy catering to tens of millions of guests annually.

Disney World is a phenomenon that has made an indelible mark on travel and tourism and changed the very notion of what it means to take a vacation and be entertained. It can be a wonderful source of pleasure and a great way to gather with friends and family for treasured, shared moments. But it is so enormous that, without proper planning, it can also be a powerful source of frustration and disappointment.

Before you proudly proclaim to anyone within shouting distance, "I'm going to Disney World!" take the time to learn all you can about the resort's incredible palette of options so that you can take full advantage of them. Gather your vacation mates for planning meetings well before you leave. Develop a rough itinerary, make restaurant reservations where practical, and do consider some of the other parks and attractions outside the Disney complex.

Whatever you do, don't try to do everything. Disney World is much too big now for vacationers to do it all. Save your energy and patience for the parks and attractions you can reasonably accommodate, and save the parks and attractions you miss for your next vacation. After all, half the fun is in the planning and getting to tell people, "I'm going to Disney World!"

The Theme Parks and Water Parks

Trip-Planning Resources

  • Guide to Walt Disney World Hotels
    Before you get to Disney World, you'll need to make plans, including hotel reservations.
  • Orlando Theme Park Vacation Deals- Learn about the latest special offers for Disney World and other Florida parks.
  • How to Skip All of the Lines at Disney World
  • Forget Fastpass! If you really want the ultimate V.I.P. experience, discover how to bypass all of the standby lines for your next visit to the parks.
  • Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party- See what Mickey has up his sorcerer's sleeve at the annual fall event.
  • Walt Disney World for Wimps
    A comprehensive, park-by-park guide for thrill ride-wary guests planning a trip to the resort.
  • Your (Free) Magic Carpet Awaits
    Read about Disney's program that offers complimentary ground transportation between Orlando International Airport and its resort to guests staying at its hotels.

The Best of Walt Disney World

Disney World Dining

Exclusive About.com Videos

  • Five Best Rides for Kids at Disney World
  • How to Meet the Disney Characters
  • Tips for Eating Healthy at Disney World
  • Expedition Everest
  • Tips for Navigating Lines at Disney Parks
  • Walt Disney World's Best Restaurants
  • Splash Mountain
  • Tips for Staying at a Disney World Hotel

Disney Cruise Line

You can combine a visit to Disney World with a Disney cruise, which docks in Port Canaveral, Florida, about an hour away from the resort. Read my profile of the Disney Fantasy, one of the ships in Disney's fleet.

New at the Resort

New for 2014
New Fantasyland- Learn more about the major expansion.